Sunday, August 17, 2008

Existence Exists: A is A; Concepts in Naturalism

Tautology: a thing that is "true by virtue of its logical form alone." (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008.)

Logical truth. A statement which is necessarily true because, by virtue of its logical form, it cannot be used to make a false assertion. Example: "If neither John nor Betty is here, then John is not here."

Existence exists. This is generally what people mean when they use the definitions of "tautology" that are listed first in almost every dictionary, which are: "needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word," and "redundant" and "superfluous."

At first glance, to the uninitiated, "existence exists" does look redundant. But it is true by virtue of its logical form, which makes it important because besides being necessarily true, it is true about the first subject of metaphysics, "Being."

"Existence exists" is in the form of "A is A." This form is proper both gramatically and in its syntax. Any word that represents any subject can take the place of the first "A." Any word that is a predicate (i.e., tells something about the subject,) can take the place of the second "A." It is like math, where "A+B=C." You can put any number in "A" and in "B," but if "C" is incorrect then you have not put the proper values into one of the positions.

So we take "A is A" and we put words in the place holders "A" and "A." Apple is fruit. Sun is hot. But without being so primative, you can say "An apple" as the subject, or "The sun" or "Twenty dogs" or "Dancing ladies." But if the predicate that takes the place of the second "A" does not logically follow from the subject, then you are using the wrong word in one of the places. You have created a contradiction.

For example, "Dancing ladies are shaped like cows." That is not only not a tautology, it isn't true by virtue of the definition of the words. "An apple is fruit" is a not a tautology not because it does not make a "false assertion," but because you could have said "is red or green;" or "is round;" or "has seeds containing arsenic." "An apple is fruit" is a good part of the definition of an apple, but it is not the denotation; a denotation is the one definition that defines the essence of a thing. Many things are "fruit." The word "fruit" is generic to a lot of different foods, but something called a "differentia" takes a thing out of the generic and puts it into its own class all by itself.

That is to say, once you find the correct differentia it then puts a thing into its own class. Some of the differentia of "apple" are "round, red, green, juicy, tart, sweet," etc. One particular differentia is what sets the apple apart from all other entities in existence, and that one particularity is the denotation. A general dictionary like my Webster's gives the denotation of "apple" as "fruit of the trees of the genus Malus."

Pears don't come from Malus; nothing comes from Malus but apples. So that is the differentia that sets the apple apart from all other existents in existence. This is not a tautology. It says something about something, something that is not self-evident.

"Existence exists" is an axiom which states that there is something, as opposed to nothing. [ ] Existence is axiomatic because it is necessary for all knowledge and it cannot be denied without conceding its truth." "Exists" can be said to be the one predicate, the one differentia of "existence" that denotes "existence."

"Existence exists" is a tautology because it describes what seems to be self-evident. But because tautologies are axioms, they describe everything that has ever been known, is known, or will be known about a thing, in this case "existence." We can still learn much about the apple. Saying it is the fruit of Malus is not the full extent of what has been known, is known, or will be known about the apple. We know it is "delicious."

Existence cannot ever have "not existed." That is why the tautology is so important. To concede that existence could once have "not existed" is to concede a contradiction in terms. Even if you say that god created matter, heaven, and earth, it must be true that god existed; therefore god did not create existence.

(I am aware of the theological argument against this statement of naturalism, but in this context it is not germain. This theological argument could be one of the "defeators" as defined by Dr. Quentin Smith , discussed in last week's series about keeping naturalism "secular." So it is an important theological objection against "therefore god did not create existence." Knowing this argument and how to rebut it would qualify as an "undefeated justifier for naturalism." But this is another subject for another day.)

Existence is defined by naturalists as a self-sufficient primary not in need of the supernatural for its presence nor its natural laws. Existence has always existed; but has this present universe always existed? Probably not. Man cannot fathom "infinite time." There could have been billions or trillions of universes before this one.But they all existed in existence; they could not have existed in non-existence. Therefore, existence has always existed, and the material form of it is ever changing.

Naturalism cannot deny the existence of existence. "A is A" is Aristotle's Law of Identity. It's like saying E=MC². It doesn't tell the whole story. It's just the code phrase. It is the conclusion of Einstein's long mathematical formula, its denotation. "A is A" is the shorhand for the Law of Identity, just as E=MC² is shorthand for the entire Einsteinean equation.

Aristotle's Law of Identity states: "These truths hold good for everything that is, and not for some special genus apart from others. And all men use them, because they are true of being qua being . . . . For a principle which everyone must have who understands anything that is, is not a hypothesis . . . . Evidently then such a principle is the most certain of all; which principle this is, let us proceed to say. It is, that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect.
Aristotle, Metaphysics, IV, 3 (W. D. Ross, trans. Quoted from “The ‘Conflicts’ of Men’s Interests,” The Virtue of Selfishness ; Ayn Rand)

Let me repeat; the Law of identity is this: that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect.

Naturalism relies on the identity of existence for all of its propositions. If "Existence did not exist" as a tautology, nothing about metaphysical naturalism would make any sense. Before Aristotle's formulation of the Law, it had to have been a sub-conscious concept in the minds of pre-Aristotelean philosophers who set the standards for the science of naturalism. Had it not been even sub-conscious, in other words, if the concept had not existed in any form in the minds of men, naturalism could not have been conceived.

Naturalism is the recognition that all things in existence including the laws of nature are "natural." Again, that sounds redundant, but that is only if you forget that the opposite of "natural" is "supernatural." So it means even the laws of nature do not rely on a supernatural entity to have created them, or to maintain them, or to cause them to work.

Existence for the metaphysical naturalist is the acceptance that existence has always existed, that it is primary, necessary, and impossible never to have existed; that it could not have been created. To accept that existence was once non-existent and had to be created means at one time it was nothing, that nothingness was a metaphysical entity, that nothingness was an existent and that it was existant.

If nothingness was once an existent, then language means nothing. Contradictions have validity in a world where non-existence is accepted as once having existence. Naturalism is the science of removing contradictions from the identity of all things in existence. Naturalism is the antidote to dogma, superstition, supernaturalism, and the contradiction that existence must have been created from the the nothingness of non-existence.

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This publication © 2008 by Curtis Edward Clark and Naturalist Academy Publishing ®

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